Chief Justice of India (CJI) Bobde has set the record straight by making it clear that Sabarimala review petition which is being heard by a nine-judge bench will get precedence over the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA and Article 370 abrogation last year. While the Sabarimala is an old issue that came to fore after an apex court verdict allowed entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years. The precedence is based upon the chronology of the issues, something that has been explicitly emphasised by the CJI led nine-judge bench which has been constituted to hear the Sabarimala matter.
The Supreme Court bench said, “Sabarimala is an older problem and it will be decided first. CAA and Article 370 issue pending before other benches will be decided later.” CJI Bobde’s observation came at a time when advocates Indira Jaising and Rajeev Dhavan argued that deferring the Sabarimala review plea could lead to its clashing with the CAA and Article 370 petitions, both pending before different benches, making it difficult for those same lawyers who are engaged in all the three matters.
CJI Bobde’s observation is indeed a laudable one, being highly equitable in character. It is only reasonable on the top court’s part to entertain petitions in a chronological order. However, this is bound to leave the liberals fuming who have been protesting against Article 370 abrogation and the Citizenship Amendment Act, two historic decisions taken by the Modi government last year.
The left-liberal has since long enjoyed the privilege of deciding the public discourse within the country. However, the nine-judge bench has, with its observation, made it clear that the petitions will not be entertained in an arbitrary manner.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had made it clear that it will not hear the petitions in connection with the CAA, until the ongoing violence abates. CJI Bobde had said, “As it is, [the] country is going through difficult times.” The top court had made it clear that it would hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA when violence stops.
Access to justice is equally guaranteed to all citizens, and no individual or group of individuals has the right of any special or preferential treatment. This observation which comes at a critical time is a massive reassurance to the Sabarimala devotees who have been eagerly waiting for a judicial pronouncement on the issue. On the other hand, it comes as a massive blow of the anti CAA rumour mongers who were hopeful of keeping the CAA issue alive by bringing the matter before the Supreme Court.